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Country Cousin

Holiday...

Hi Folks!

Old Man Winter finally arrived, officially, on Saturday, Dec. 21, bringing with him more snow than we really needed for a white Christmas.

Kind of ironic, immediately before his arrival temperatures actually moderated a bit. We have a little break from the bitter, blustery cold we’ve been fighting for the past month.

And, another bright note: The shortest day of the year has come and gone. (Happened on Saturday.) From now until Summer, the sun will rise a minute or two earlier each morning, and set a little later each afternoon. Before we know it, we’ll once again have daylight into the evening hours, and go to work and school in the daylight hours instead of darkness.

BABY NEW YEAR

By this time next week, 2013 will be history, and 2014 will be here. Those of us given to New Year’s revelry may be over the celebrating and preparing with resolve to turn over a new leaf for the New Year.

Ever wonder how we got our symbols for the New year?

The Romans dedicated New Year’s Day to Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings. January is named for him. Janus had two faces, one looking forward and the other looking backward. This suggests that New Year’s celebrations are founded on pagan traditions.

After Julius Caesar reformed the calendar in 46 BC and was subsequently murdered, the Roman Senate voted to deify him on the first day of January in 42 BC., making it a special holiday for them.

WHERE DID BABY NEW YEAR COME FROM??

Usually in concert with the Baby New Year there is also a wizened old man with a beard. The old man is leaving, the baby has just arrived. Makes sense.

Use of an infant as a symbol of the start of the new cycle that begins with the passage of the year dates back to ancient Greece. The festival of Dionysus, who was the god of wine, song and merriment, was a big thing for the Greeks. No doubt the festival of Dionysus often ended long after the womenfolk had been sent to bed and male revelers were left on their own.

According to at least one historian, before these parties got down to the good stuff it was the custom of the time to parade a newborn baby around in a basket, as a symbol and a herald for fertility and crops.

The Egyptians also had a ceremony of rebirth that involved the use of a young baby. In fact, there was a specific ceremonial ritual involving a young man and an older bearded man carrying a baby inside a basket that was discovered on the lid of a sarcophagus now on display in a museum.

Because the symbol of a Baby New Year was ubiquitous throughout the pagan religions, the Catholic Church disallowed it for centuries. (During those centuries, the Catholic Church was in fact the only Christian church.)

Finally, the church gave in and allowed infants to be used in New Year celebrations, but with one adjustment - the Baby New Year was transformed from a pagan symbol into a symbol of the Baby Christ.

The contemporary image of the Baby New Year comes to us, like the Christmas tree, courtesy of the fun-loving Germans. The newly diapered Baby New Year first cropped up in German woodcarving illustrations in the 1300s. When the German immigrants moved into Pennsylvania they brought with them the Christmas tree, Groundhog Day and our current image of the Baby New Year.

NEW YEAR’S TRADITIONS

With the New Year, most of us spend some time reflecting on what has gone on in the past, and resolving to make things better in the future. And then most of us spend a month or two resolving to follow those resolutions before we tuck them into some dark corner of our brains and forget about them until next year.

Have heard, though, about some folks who actually did manage to follow through on their new Year’s Resolutions and were happier for it, so there is hope.

NO HIP BOOTS

With the cynicism of youth, in former days would join with favorite cousins to come up with New Year’s Resolutions that we knew we’d keep.

For Example:

I will not wear hip boots to bed.

I will not eat Limburger cheese.

I will enjoy chocolate every chance I get.

I will not catch more trout than the legal limit, unless they

are biting really well.

I will not eat squid, oysters, or other slimy creatures.

GOVERNMENT HELP

Talk about Government getting involved in our daily lives! Logged on to the web to find out which are the most popular resolutions this year and, guess what???

Accidentally found a site, published by the Federal Government itself, that promises help - from the government, of course - with whatever your goals for 2014 may be.

Most popular of the goals this year, according the the United States Government, which of course knows everything, are: Drink Less Alcohol; Eat Healthy Food; Get a Better Education; Get a Better Job; Get Fit; Lose Weight; Manage Debt; Manage Stress; Quit Smoking; Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle; Save Money; Take a Trip, and Volunteer to Help Others

The site, paid for with taxpayer dollars no doubt, is http:// www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/New-Years-Resolutions.shtml.

Just ask, and the site will tell you which agency to go to for help. Who better than the Federal Government to tell you how to manage debt? They manage to make their debt grow by billions of dollars a day! Apparently they’re willing to teach you and I to do likewise.

Someday, you, I, our children and great-grandchildren will have to pay for that debt. Guess that’s one way to manage it!

CHRISTIAN HOLIDAY

Incidentally, the site does recognize that Christmas, even if it is a Federal holiday, is also a Christian holiday. Their description states: “Christmas Day is a celebrated on December 25. Christmas is a Christian holiday marking the birth of the Christ Child. Decorating houses and yards with lights, putting up Christmas trees, giving gifts, and sending greeting cards have become holiday traditions even for many non-Christian Americans.”

Then the site offers tips to help celebrate. Of course, we wouldn’t know how to celebrate Christmas without help from Uncle Sam.

WHERE DID UNCLE SAM GO?

By the way, doesn’t it seem these days that Uncle Sam has abdicated? He was a friendly old guy, if a bit domineering, not the sneaky, interfering Big Brother who seems to have taken his place. Maybe Uncle Sam was deposed or assassinated.

Anyone who grew up in the Cold War days will know who - or what - Big Brother is, but maybe the younger folks won’t. If you don’t know, ask Grandpa or Grandma.

Ask them about the Communists and the Axis powers too, while you’re asking. Once we of the older generation pass away there will be no one left who remembers how things really were, and no one who recognizes how close this country has come today to conditions we feared in our younger days. Yes, here in the US we can still buy soap without going through the Black Market, we generally get enough to eat, and we mostly aren’t living three or four families in an apartment the government assigned to us, but that too will come if our national direction doesn’t change. It’s gotten harder and harder for the Little Guy to start up a business and make it go, or to save up for a little house of our own with a white picket fence, which was always the American Dream.

Karl Marx, founder of Communism, urged governments to take “From each according to his abilities, (and give) to each according to his needs.”

Someone else, apparently a lot more familiar with human frailties, added, When you implement “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” magically, everyone starts having quite a lot of need and very little ability. Marx and his Communist friends apparently failed to mention that those holding the power seem to have the greatest needs. Or maybe they knew that, but since they would be holding the power, they didn’t see that as a problem. We need to look only to our own leaders to understand that. We have to sign up for Obamacare, and pay for it too. They (our national elected elite) said so. It’s for our own good. But they exempted themselves!

A worthwhile New year’s Resolution for folks my age is to try to teach as many young people as possible what really happened when we were young, so they don’t get tricked into believing only today’s whitewashed politically correct versions of history. Let us pass along the wisdom of our forefathers, so the generations to come can learn from our mistakes.

ONE LITTLE CANDLE

Candles and the Christmas Season go naturally together. Came across a lovely little poem about candles and life, written by Clara B. Thurston. It applies to the old fashioned hand dipped beeswax candles, as opposed to the ones that so often come in jars and tins today. In the old days, candles were used for light, not just decoration as they are today.

Thurston wrote:

“A Candle’s but a simple thing,

“It starts with just a bit of string.

“Yet dipped and dipped with patient hand,

“It gathers was upon the strand

“Until, complete and snowy white,

“It gives at last a lovely light.

“Life is so like that bit of String ,

“Each deed we do a simple thing,

“Yet day by day if on life’s strand

“We work with patient heart and hand

“It gathers joy, makes dark days bright,

“and gives at last a lovely light.”

COOKIN’ TIME

Christmas may be over, but the Christmas Season is not. There will be New Year’s celebrations, and many families will have holiday festivities this weekend. Today’s treats are perfect for post Christmas parties, and Super Bowl celebrations as well.

CHICKEN SCAMPI FOR TWO

Planning a stay-at-home New Year’s Eve just for the two of you? Serve with a light champagne, tossed salad and perhaps peel each other some grapes for dessert. Sound good? Maybe you’d rather have leftover Christmas cookies and sherbet. Or Egg Nog Triffle. Good combination.

4 ounces uncooked linguine

2 green onions, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

1/2 cup chopped seeded tomatoes

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

grated Parmesan cheese

Cook linguine according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a skillet, saut the onions and garlic in butter and oil until garlic is tender. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; add to skillet. Cook for 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Reduce heat; cover and cook 4 minutes longer or until juices run clear. Remove chicken and keep warm. Stir the tomato, lemon juice and parsley into skillet; heat through. Drain linguine; toss with tomato mixture. Top with chicken and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

BAKED GREEN ‘N’ GOLD DIP BASKET

Again, use low fat versions if you want to cut calories.

16 Triscuit Crackers, divided

2 package (10 ounces each) frozen chopped broccoli,

thawed, well drained

1 cup Real Mayo Mayonnaise

1 cup Shredded Swiss Cheese

1/3 cup Sliced Almonds, toasted

1 jar (4 ounces) diced pimientos, drained

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place six of the crackers on bottom of 1-1/2-quart casserole dish; set aside. Mix broccoli, mayo, cheese, almonds, pimientos and mustard. Spoon into cracker-lined casserole dish; stand remaining 10 crackers around outside edge of dish. Bake 30 minutes or until heated through. Serve with additional crackers and/or assorted cut-up fresh vegetables plus toasted bread cubes, and maybe corn chips. For Hot Spinach Dip, prepare as directed, but substitute a 10 -ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained, for the broccoli.

Cover and refrigerate any remaining dip. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. Spoon onto warmed 6-inch flour tortillas and roll up. Serve warm.

EGG NOG COFFEE

This recipe combines two winter favorites - festive eggnog and a hot cup of coffee. It’s a delicious holiday treat and a great way to use leftover eggnog! (Add a shot of rum to each cup if you want an adult beverage. Great after snowmobiling or snowman construction!

1/4 cup ground coffee, any variety

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons sugar

2-1/2 cups cold water

1 cup eggnog, warmed

1/2 cup thawed frozen whipped topping or real whipped

cream

Place coffee and nutmeg in filter in brew basket of coffee maker. Place sugar in empty coffee maker pot. Add water to coffee maker; brew. When brewing is complete, stir in eggnog. Pour into 4 mugs; top with whipped topping. Stir in rum if you like, and garnish with a light sprinkling of nutmeg on top

EGGNOG TRIFFLE

This can be made low cal and slightly low carb by substituting sugar free pudding, fat-free milk, fat free pound cake, and lite whipped topping. Keep your New Year’s resolution, and eat this too!

1 package (1 ounce) vanilla flavor instant pudding (sugar

free if you like)

1-1/4 cups milk

4 tablespoons orange juice, divided

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tub (8 ounces) whipped topping, thawed

1 package (13.6 ounces) prepared pound cake

3 cups halved strawberries

1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

To toast nuts, spread in single layer on baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 5 to 7 min. or until lightly toasted. Let cool. Beat pudding mix, milk, 2 tablespoons orange juice and nutmeg in large bowl with whisk 2 min. Gently stir in whipped topping. Slice cake horizontally into 4 layers. Sprinkle cake layers evenly with remaining orange juice. Cut into 1-inch cubes. Place half the cake cubes onto bottom of 2-1/2-qt. straight-sided bowl. Spoon half the whipped topping mixture over cake cubes. Top with berries and nuts, reserving several for garnish, if desired. Layer remaining cake cubes and whipped topping mixture over nuts. Top with reserved berries and nuts. Refrigerate until ready to serve. This is better if you make it at least four hours before serving, even the night before. For a sophisticated adult version, substitute an orange flavored liqueur, like Triple Sec, for the orange juice.

Thought For the Week: As the year draws to a close, may God shine His light upon us, and guide us to spread light and joy to those around us. Please God, guide our footsteps in the New Year on the paths that lead to You. Amen.

An unknown author once said, “There are two ways to add to the light in this world: Either be the light or be the mirror that reflects the light.” Lord, help me to be a mirror that reflects Your light. Amen.”

(This column is written by Shirley Prudhomme of Crivitz. Views expressed are her own and are in no way intended to be an official statement of the opinions of Peshtigo Times editors and publishers. She may be contacted by phone at 715-927-5034 or by e-mail to shirleyprudhommechickadee@yahoo. com.)

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